McCallie had some stretches Thursday at East Hamilton that the players would just as soon forget about. But ultimately they had enough good stretches -- particularly the one at the end -- to come away with a 68-65 victory over the Hurricanes.
The Blue Tornado looked out of sync at the beginning, going more than three minutes before scoring their first points. But they backed their five-point first quarter with a 27-point second quarter and went to halftime leading 32-24.
In keeping with the roller-coaster theme, McCallie (2-1) allowed 27 points to the 'Canes in the third quarter and trailed by four going to the fourth.
The Blue Tornado took the lead for good at 63-62 when Cam Walker scored underneath with a little less than a minute to play.
"It's a work in progress," said McCallie coach Dan Wadley, who just welcomed those coming from football into basketball practice four days ago. "We want to be playing our best ball in February."
All seven of McCallie's field goals in the fourth quarter came near the basket. The 'Canes were limited to two baskets in the final period -- a 3 by Mac Brower and a shot in close by Kenny Bunton in the final half-minute.
"We missed a lot of layup opportunities in the fourth," East Hamilton coach Michael Stone said. "We certainly could've used those points."
Another key late for McCallie was its 6-of-8 free-throw shooting in the final 2:20. East Hamilton (0-3) was 5-of-9 from the line in the last 3:06.
Stone said he has stressed to his players the importance of making layups and free throws, particularly when facing a highly skilled opponent.
"I think we showed our youth in that way," he said.
Substitute Adrian Thomas led the Blue Tornado with 22 points -- 11 in the second quarter. Chauncey Alford added 14.
Walker, another reserve, worked around the basket for his 10 points. Wadley also praised the play of Jordan Atkins, who scored seven points and "had some key rebounds and played under control."
"We didn't execute our secondary break as well as I would've liked," Wadley said, "but we did get it inside."
East Hamilton is awaiting two, possibly four football players to join the team, after their playoff run.
Freshman Mac Brower, forced into point-guard duty, led the nine who dressed for the 'Canes with 19 points. Bunton scored 11 of his 13 after halftime, and Tank Sparks and James Wright totaled 12 apiece. Tracy Thompson chipped in with nine.
"Defensively it was about as good as we could play with what we have," Stone said. "They had a significant size advantage. I thought Tracy Thompson did a fantastic job. He was giving up about 100 pounds inside."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.